I’ve lived in northern California long enough now to instinctively dread and dislike LA. It’s a rather odd aspect of northern Californians, the automatic dislike for their own state’s largest city. In contrast, Angelenos will express their love for San Francisco and its beauty if the subject ever comes up. In fact, I’m not even sure Angelenos understand the word “hate.” They either love you, or they don’t, and if they don’t, you’re just not worth spending any of their already-limited mental energy on. When I expressed my hatred of their city to Angelenos, they’d just look at me with a puzzled expression, trying to think how their acting coach explained that emotion in drama class. It was certainly something negative, so they wished me a happier tomorrow, completely oblivious to the fact that the emotion goes deeper than that.
On our first morning on this trip to LA, we had to cross through a traffic intersection with more cameras trained on it than Britney Spears’ crotch. The only vehicle in front of us was a “roach coach.” To our horror, the van started going slower and slower as it moved across the intersection, and finally, just as it had crossed, it stalled out in front of us, leaving us in the intersection with 50 or more flash bulbs triggering in our faces, and recording my car as a gridlock violater. Oh, that’s a traffic ticket that costs about $300, as well as moving violation that will increase my car insurance costs. If I want to fight it (or at least go to traffic school), I’ll have to go back to LA. Oh, joy.
It had become obvious already the night before that Wizard World LA was a mistake for us to be exhibiting at. We’d been told (and paid the according rate) that the show pulled in over 25,000 attendees. Now comic show promoters have been known for playing fast and loose with their attendance numbers, by, for instance, counting one person with a 3 day pass as 3 people. But this was an exaggeration of absurd proportions. The show floor looked as busy as the San Diego Comic-Con after the show’s closed, and I’d be surprised if there were any more than 6,000 people who’d bought passes. And those who came were largely interested in action figures, the $1 comic book boxes, and the celebrities; if they were interested in comic book software or Atomic Avenue, they knew they could find us online or at the San Diego show.
I took the children to Los Angeles’ science museum, the California ScienCenter, which was just as fun and appealing as a classroom textbook; that is to say, out of date, shallow, and unappealing. Just to give an example, one of the stations was an ugly cartoon of a uterus labelled “reproduction,” and if that wasn’t enough to turn you off, it had a weird, deliberately nerdy voice narrating it. If you wonder why Hollywood stereotypes scientists as socially inept weirdos, you have to look no further than this museum. But, hey, it had the information Angeleno children might find practical in their adult life, like this:
So when you’re applying for the night clerk job at a transient hotel, be sure to take the job at the one with the Lexan plastic windows, not the one with the not-so-bulletproof thick glass.
The Wizard World show was at the LA convention center right downtown and next to the Staples center. Now while downtown LA is much cleaner and less gritty than it used to be about 20 years ago, it’s completely bereft of personality or energy. Even while there was a college basketball play-off at the Staples Center next door (which raised parking costs to $25 for the Wizard World attendees, who were already playing $48 for their passes), the area was eerily quiet. It’s like the lights are on, but nobody’s home, both literally and figuratively.
Now as an aside, I don’t want to imply that northern California is better. We have our own freaks and flaws. For instance, around here we occassionally run across a man who’s so impassioned about politics that he’s mounted a small billboard on the back of the car. The message may change but it says something like “how DARE you still be registered as a Republican when blood of millions is on your filthy paws!!” I thought I might ask him who he was rooting for: Hilliary or Obama, but I was afraid he might want to gun me down for the sake of world peace. Angelenos on the other hand, never put anything on their style-conscious cars, and if they wanted to advertise anything (on a billboard or anywhere else) it would be a glam shot of themselves with a phone number interested casting agents can use to call them. They probably only barely know who the president of the United States is. They may not love him, but if he wants to invest some money in their next creative project, they could change their mind. Personally, I’m more comfortable with the narcissistic bubblehead than the kill-all-Republicans guy, so LA’s ahead of us there.
But I still hate LA.